This review contains spoilers.
This week on Slean: Prince of the Shieldlands, we discover that Slean has always known Elvina was a skin-shifter, but loves her and slept with her anyway, even at the risk of being executed. It’s probably fortunate he didn’t tell Kela that, as for all her talk about how it doesn’t matter whether they love each other or not, she’s clearly threatened. Kela’s desire to take over as healer when she thought Elvina was gone is intriguing. It’s not yet clear whether she wants to help people, to be in a better position to murder them, to fill in Elvina’s place in Slean’s life or all of the above, but she almost certainly wants something.
The most subtle and nicely played moment in the episode is the silence that follows Slean’s request that she not poison anybody, as Kela sighs in relief that he isn’t trying to stop her, then pauses to wonder just how serious he is in that request, and how much of a criticism was implied in it.
This week’s character who is Too Dumb To Live is easily Rheda, who rides off to confront her brother about Breca’s accusation without so much as a stable-boy to accompany her. Even assuming she just really trusts her brother, considering the clearly volatile situation in the area, that doesn’t seem like a good idea.
This also brings us to this week’s Character Who Is Randomly Missing For No Reason – why didn’t Rheda bring Varr with her? And where is Varr? Has he been sent off to chase down Razzak, who, after a lengthy introduction last week, is also completely absent from this episode? Razzak’s absence is at least explicable in the sense that the story is focusing on Abrecan as the main villain for this week, and there isn’t room for everyone. Varr’s absence, however, is harder to understand, as is the continued under-use of Breca, who just seems to be back now, and everyone’s kinda mad at him, but that’s as far as it goes – no real long-term consequences of the revelations about his past, nor any further explanation for his behaviour.
This week’s character who can’t decide which side they’re on is Abrecan’s girlfriend. Apparently she thought it was just fine to plot against your sister and was quite happy to attempt to murder Abrecan’s nearly-niece-in-law, but felt that murdering one’s sibling is just a step too far. Her double-sworded fight scene is brief but cool, but otherwise she feels like a rather wasted character, existing primarily to move the plot along – until the moment when she opens her eyes at the episode’s end (thus ensuring that the series’ penchant for keeping recurring characters alive at all costs remains steady). Is she a zombie? A witch? A self-necromancer? Is Abrecan just a bit rubbish with a sword? Only time will tell.
Also Beowulf was there. He didn’t do very much and no one really listened to him.